Many parents agonize for weeks over whether a move overseas will be the right thing for their children. Reports of expatriate children going off the rails and struggling to settle in to life abroad can be extremely off putting and many parents worry that uprooting their family could damage their education, confidence and ability to socialize.
There’s a great deal of research and information available about expatriate children and what a life away from their home country can mean to them and t is clear from research on the Third Culture Kid (a term coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem) that there are both negative and positive implications of taking your children to a new country. Today we would like to focus on some of the things that your children can gain from an expatriate lifestyle and how it can give them a great start to life.
Your children will learn how to integrate with people of different backgrounds
One of the best things about an expatriate lifestyle is that it will introduce your children to new people and cultures. In today’s global economy it is crucial that individuals are able to interact comfortably and confidently with people of all backgrounds. By introducing your children to different cultures, beliefs and languages early on you will educate them that people are different and that it is important to accept and respect one another’s views and beliefs. Communicating with people who are different from themselves will hopefully become second nature as a result of living overseas and they will learn an invaluable life skill.
Your children will have broader horizons
Moving abroad is a major eye-opening experience that can change our perceptions of the world we live in and the people that inhabit it. Children who gain experience of alternative cultures and traditions early on in their lives will learn a great deal about themselves and will gain better perceptions of how the world really is.
Your children will probably learn a new language
According to HSBC’s Offshore Offspring report, there’s a high chance that living overseas will expose your children to a new language, with 84% of the expats they surveyed claiming that their children had learned a new language.
Children are notoriously quick to learn new languages and experience in different cultures with children who speak in a different tongue will very quickly start to learn new phrases and words. Speaking an additional language to their native vernacular will be a valuable skill that will be extremely useful in their later years.
Your children will probably gain higher educational qualifications
Research completed by Drs. John Useem and Ruth Hill Useem of Michigan State University and Dr. Ann Baker Cottrell of San Diego University; together with Dr. Kathleen A. Finn Jordan, a counselor in Washington, D.C; found that children who live overseas for prolonged periods are more likely to gain a degree. According to their findings, 81% of Americans who have lived overseas have attained a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, versus 42% of Americans who have not experienced expat life as a child (Useem, 2001).
You will develop a closer family
Families that move from one area of the world to another are forced to rely on each other and support each other through all the challenges of settling in to life overseas. This can have a very positive effect on your social bonds as a family and you can become closer as you explore your host country together. According to HSBC’s Offshore Offspring report, 53% of expats surveyed believed that they spent more time with their children in their host country than they did in their home country and 47% play more sports.
Choosing to bring your children up overseas can be a very difficult decision, one that almost certainly should not be taken lightly. However, the opportunities that it may offer them are immense.
What are your experiences of raising children abroad? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Read the full article: http://www.tckworld.com/useem/art2.html